When Salma Hayek wrote an op-ed in the New York Times in December alleging Harvey Weinstein sexually harassed and tormented her during the making of Frida, Weinstein released a statement denying her account. In October, Weinstein responded to a similar account in the Times, this one by Lupita Nyong’o, with equal fervor. And at a Cannes Film Festival event on Sunday, Hayek said she believes Weinstein came after the two of them because they are women of color.
“We are the easiest to get discredited,” she told a Variety reporter at the festival’s Women In Motion panel. “It is a well-known fact that, if you are a woman of color, people believe in you less. So he went back, attacking the two women of color, in hopes that if he could discredit us.”
In Hayek’s Times account, she detailed incidents in which Weinstein allegedly urged her to give him a massage, to take a shower with him, and to let him perform oral sex on her. When Hayek denied him, he threatened to kill her, she said. Weinstein’s spokesperson released a statement claiming that “[a]ll of the sexual allegations as portrayed by Salma are not accurate.”
Nyong’o’s account made similar allegations against Weinstein, including that he lured her to his home for a “private film screening” and tried to give her a massage, and, on a different occasion, threatened to derail her career when she refused to go to his hotel room. Weinstein’s team specifically denied Nyong’o’s allegations, stating, “Mr. Weinstein has a different recollection of the events, but believes Lupita is a brilliant actress and a major force for the industry.
Though Weinstein has long denied the dozens of sexual harassment and abuse allegations against him, he hasn’t called out a lot of his accusers specifically. Indeed, Hayek and Nyong’o are among the few his team has named, although they have also issued personal statements denying allegations made by Ashley Judd, Rose McGowan, and Uma Thurman. But Weinstein’s statements about Hayek and Nyong’o were rife with discredit and smarm—in Nyong’o’s case, his spokesperson dropped in that Nyong’o had “sent a personal invitation to Mr. Weinstein to see her in her Broadway show Eclipsed,” and in Hayek’s, he suggested Hayek was angry that it was his vision for Frida that made the film so successful, and not hers. As Splinter pointed out in December, Weinstein’s other denials have mostly alleged he and his accusers had “a different account of the events.”
No matter what, Hayek says, the Weinstein allegations and subsequent #MeToo movement has been a major turning point for women in Hollywood. “The men are terrified. The predators are hiding. You feel this very palpable atmosphere,” she said, according to the Guardian. Hopefully that sense extends beyond the film industry as well.